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Published On: Tue, May 1st, 2018

OAU sexual harassment saga: CPC demands balanced, inclusive probe

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By Miriam Humbe Abuja

The Consumer Protection Council, (CPC) has urged the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile Ife, to ensure an open and transparent investigation, and also publish the outcome of same in the case of raging controversy regarding the sexually and emotionally abusive conduct of a lecturer demanding sexual gratification from a female student in exchange for favorable grades and guarantee the investigation is broad, balanced and inclusive.
To promote confidence, equity and fairness, the Council has recommended that OAU authorities, in handling this case, should include people and views from all relevant stakeholders including faculty, professional disciplinary bodies, student representation, relevant civil society specializing in sexual harassment, gender objectification, consumer protection and relevant institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission and the Council.
Babatunde Irukera, Director General of CPC who stated this in a statement on Monday, said the investigative process must encourage both identified and anonymous contributions, while protecting the identities and confidential information of the courageous people who will provide information that assists the investigation where so desired by any informant, contributor or testifier.
“In addition, the authorities must provide necessary safeguards that, such persons are not otherwise victimized, “blacklisted” or subjected to any reprisal on account of their cooperation with the investigation.
“A transparent, comprehensive and decisive approach to a matter of this nature is vital for reputation and quality of education. Failure to fully and sufficiently address the issue compromises the entire institution and victimizes not only the students, who are directly solicited, induced or compelled, but others who decline, and those who are not considered or propositioned, because educational outcomes skewed by such factors operate to the disadvantage of all, especially.
where class rank is a factor in evaluating performance.

“All relevant authorities in OAU and other institutions must
assiduously address this conduct, or others ancillary to it in order
to restore institutional reputation and ensure that students, being
consumers of educational services, are able to pursue scholarship in
institutions and on campuses that provide safe, secure and liberal
environment where the relationship between faculty and students leads
to robust and confident knowledge sharing”, he said.

Although the widely discussed controversy underscores an allegedly
pervasive practice, the current specific subject of discussion now, is
a leaked and widely circulated audio clip that appeared to have
captured a telephonic conversation or “negotiation” between a female
student and a member of faculty at Obafemi Awolowo University which
has been authenticated and both the member of faculty and
student/victim identified.

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